A rail operator insists it will do everything it can to keep passengers moving ahead of a month of strikes affecting the Weymouth-Waterloo line at one of the busiest times of the year.

South Western Railway has yet to release its emergency timetable for the strike days in December and into the new year, although it says it will be running more than half of its normal Monday-Friday services.

On previous strike days an hourly shuttle train has operated between Weymouth, Dorchester South and Bournemouth with Waterloo trains starting from Bournemouth.

However there may be different plans for the forthcoming strike – with the possible use of buses to cover some services – as contingency guards will be used over a longer period.

The strike action, confirmed yesterday, has been called by the RMT union amid an ongoing bitter dispute about the role of the guard on trains and whether that role can be guaranteed.

Strike days proposed are December 2-11, December 13-24 and December 27-January 1.

Andy Mellors, Managing Director of South Western Railway said: “We promise that there will always be a guard on our trains. We also promise our guards will maintain a safety critical role on our trains.

“We believe that these promises deliver what the RMT has been asking for, so these strikes are unnecessary.

“All we’re asking is that guards work with us to provide the modern, efficient train service customers need and want by bringing in new trains which could mean over 10 million more passenger journeys arrive on-time in peak hours every year."

He added: "Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year, and we know people will be worried about how they get to work, school and other commitments like Christmas parties.

“So we are working hard on detailed plans for the period of the strikes and we will do everything we can to keep customers moving."

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT has attended discussions under the auspices of ACAS to discuss the issues in dispute. No proposals that would enable the development of a resolution to the dispute have been put forward by SWR.

"Throughout these ‎talks SWR have not shown any intention of moving the issues at the heart of the dispute forwards despite verbal assurances in earlier discussions. It has become increasingly clear that they are not interested in reaching a settlement at this time."

Emergency timetables should be available next week

Passengers are urged to check before they travel at southwesternrailway.com